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Creating Te Hono  

Transforming New Zealand's food and fibre 

Te Hono: A coalition of the willing  


Te Hono is a partnership between the leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand’s food and fibre sector companies, iwi and government agencies. We have a vision for Aotearoa New Zealand to be a global food and fibre exemplar - economically, environmentally and socially. 


For a decade, Te Hono has been instrumental in creating strategic cohesion, leadership, and global connections within the food and fibre sector. Born out of a desire to seize new opportunities and shift New Zealand from its commodity-based focus, Te Hono has played a crucial role in driving the sector’s growth. 


In the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, the human connection of global brand partners and primary sector leaders checking in on each other spurred some to think about how we could connect better within New Zealand, seizing the opportunities of the global marketplace and really understanding what a shift from volume to value would look like.   


The beginning: realising opportunity in vulnerability 

John Brakenridge, then CEO of The New Zealand Merino Company, had recognised there was an opportunity and that it was time to lead a major shift in thinking.  


It was meeting with Professor Baba Shiv, an expert in neuroeconomics at Stanford University, that sparked the idea of bringing together industry leaders for an intensive learning experience. 


The Birth of Te Hono 

John, together with then-Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Keith Cooper, connected with peers from his earlier Stanford experience and proposed the idea of organising an event to expose leaders to Silicon Valley experts and connect over their shared interests. With the support of key ministers, CEOs, and industry leaders, the first Stanford University Bootcamp took place in 2012. 


Te Hono Bootcamps quickly became renowned for their ability to foster deep connections and trust among participants. By immersing leaders in a global setting, Te Hono creates a unique environment for learning. 


The magic of the Bootcamp experience lies in the curated setting, which often highlights the maturity and sophistication required to enhance New Zealand’s market approach. 


Impact and collaborations 

Pete Chrisp, Chief Executive of NZ Trade & Enterprise, recalls that before Te Hono, there was a strong feeling that New Zealand’s primary production model needed innovation and edge. 


“We needed to reach out for global best practice, to reach in for better relationships and collaboration, and to transition to a new core model - for the good of New Zealand, and the good of the world. Te Hono enables this mahi.” 


Building a sustainable future 

The success of the inaugural New Zealand Primary Sector Bootcamp in 2012 laid the foundation for regular events. A second Bootcamp was created in 2013 specifically for Māori leaders by Jamie Tuuta and Graham Stewart, who had been on the original Bootcamp and recognised the need for cohesion within Māori agribusiness. Since then, Te Hono has organised nine Bootcamps and supported the development of a second Māori Bootcamp. 


“It was never about the core of the food and fibre paradigm, but rather about the edge of the paradigm, the exposure to global best practice and learning experiences, and the building of foundational, mana enhancing relationships amongst people,” he says. 


The impact of Te Hono can be seen in the increased trust, cohesion, and innovation within the sector, paving the way for a sustainable and prosperous future for New Zealand’s 

food and fibre industry. 

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“Te Hono's alumni have experienced the transformative effects of the meaningful and deep connections made at Te Hono events. The sector has witnessed a significant shift in communication, leading to enhanced cohesion and innovation.” 

Professor Baba Shiv
Stanford University
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